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Saturday, 12 September 2015

Over 100 Persons Dead As Crane Collapses On Mosque In Saudi Arabia


A huge crane collapsed on the grand mosque in islam's holiest city, Mecca, killing at least 107 with another 230 injured. This tragedy occurred at about 17:23 local time yesterday (14:23 GMT) while preparations were underway for the annual muslim hajj pilgrimage. I had previously written about the Nigerian government paying for government officials and citizens to go on these pilgrimages with scarce state funds, and later, about the president's decision to stop sending an official delegation to the hajj pilgrimage.
Both times I posted yesterday were about islam, first about Atena Farghadani, who was being charged for shaking hands with her lawyer, and the second about the 9/11 tragedy. I was tempted both times to add Saudi Arabia's banning of non-muslims from entering Mecca, and the core of the city of Medina, islam's second holiest city and burial place of their prophet Mohammed. Saudi Arabia, a majority sunni islam theocracy, is also known for its heavy handedness on other religions, to the extent that it economically and politically discriminates against its shia muslim minority population. The only places of worship allowed to be built are mosques and public display of anything non-islamic attracts severe penalties. It is therefore curious that muslims go to other countries where islam is neither the state nor predominant religion and (are allowed to) build mosques. Blasphemy, apostasy, non-islamic proselytizing and atheism are punishable by long prison sentences or even death.
The needless death of anyone, even those who hold contrary dangerous beliefs, is never a cause for schadenfreude. I am only appalled that with such extensive renovations going on, the authorities did not prioritize the safety of the victims. Did anybody think that Allah was going to avert such a tragedy? In 2003, a stampede left at least 300 people dead during the hajj ritual of circumambulating the kaaba. While these tragedies were unavoidable, I believe more could have been done to prevent them. Islam may promise paradise after after death (whether by being crushed by a crane or under other people's feet) but they should do well to not to facilitate it, especially in the 'holy land'; we have enough young men and women who fast track their deaths via bomb vests and crashing planes into buildings.

Kudos to bbc.co.uk